Sunday, June 2, 2013

First game of Malifaux V2

It's Saturday for me, late at night while I am typing this. I went out today and grabbed a game of Malifaux V2 with Mike. I figured I would post my initial impressions overall for those who are interested in reading them.

Simply because some people will take great joy seeing this in writing, I will say that one of my strongest initial impressions was wrong. (Hear that Brian, I said I was wrong.......) I expected the game today to not feel like Malifaux to me, but was instead expecting a new game that was inspired by Malifaux. This was not the case. The game today still "Felt like Malifaux" overall. Lest you start doing the happy "Bill's Wrong" dance.... it did not feel like a good version of Malifaux. It was also not a better version of Malifaux. In fact, I would say its a worse version overall, and has a lot lacking.

So, what did I put on the table today? Mike setup the board and encounter, and I asked that we play at 50ss. Mike did make the recommendation that we play at 41ss, as this is what the local playtesting group feels is most like our favorite Malifaux Classic level of 30ss. I asked that we stay at 50ss since the designers (Mack and Justin) make a point in the rules of saying that's where the game is competitively balanced.

We played Ten Thunders versus Neverborn. We had corners deployment and Squatters Rights as our Strategy. Our Scheme pool was Line in the Sand, Assassinate, Vendetta, Spring the Trap, and Distract. Here is a look at those:
Squatters Rights
Place 5 30mm Squat Markers along the centerline. One is placed at the center of the table. Then, two more are placed on the centerline 6" away from the center of the table (one on each side). Lastly, two more are placed on the centerline 6" away from table's edge (one on each side).
Special Rules
Squat Markers begin the game claimed by neither Crew.
A model may take a (1) Interact action to claim any Squat marker that is in base contact with the model. A Squat marker is only ever claimed by the last Crew to interact with it, all previous claims are removed.
Victory Points
At the end of each Turn after the first a Crew earns 1 VP if it has claim to at least 2 Squat Markers.

A Line in the Sand
At the end of the game, the Crew earns 2 VP if it has at least 4 Scheme Markers on the Centerline.
If this Scheme is revealed, the Crew earns an additional VP if it has at least 2 Scheme markers on the Centerline at the end of the game.
All non-Peon models in this Crew may target a non-Peon enemy model within 1" with a (1) Interact action to give the target the following Condition for the rest of the game: "Distracted: This model may take a (2) Interact Action to remove this Condition from itself. No other action may remove this Condition."
This Scheme starts the game Unrevealed. The first time an enemy model gains the Distracted Condition, reveal this scheme. At the end of every Turn, this Crew earns 1 VP if at least two enemy models have the Distracted Condition.

If the enemy Leader is Killed or Sacrificed this Crew earns 3 VP.
This Scheme does not benefit from being revealed.

The scheming player notes one of his non-Leader, non-peon models and an enemy model with a Soulstone cost equal to or greater than his chosen model. If the chosen enemy model is killed or sacrificed by its own Crew or the noted friendly model, this Crew earns 2 VP.
If this Scheme is revealed, this crew earns 3 VP instead of 2 if it achieves this Scheme

Spring the Trap
Once per game, at the end of any turn the scheming player may reveal this Scheme. This Crew earns 1 VP for every Scheme Marker it has within 4" of the enemy Leader, then remove all of this Crew's Scheme Markers within 4" of the enemy Leader. If the enemy Leader is on this Crew's half of the board and at least 1 VP is scored, score an additional VP.
This Scheme does not benefit from being revealed.
I took Misaki with the upgrades Untouchable, Disquise, and Stalking Bisento, Yamaziko with the Smoke and Shadows upgrade, Ototo with the Call the Thunder upgrade, Torekage, 10T ARcher, Oiran, and Shang. I ended up with a pool of 6 stones.

Mike took Zoraida, Bad JuJu with Fear given Form, Barabos with Fear Given Form, 2 Silurid, and 2 Waldgeists. He had a 6ss pool.

I ended up picking Line in the Sand and Assassinate as my two schemes. Mike took Distract and Line in the Sand.

New Ronin Art from the Rulebook
My overall summed up thoughts, which I will try and keep somewhat short at this point. I felt like this was still Malifaux, but a simpler version of Malifaux with models that were poorly trying to act like the Malifaux Models I know from Classic. Many of the models felt watered down to me, and others simply felt underpowered. I did notice a couple models that seemed to have gained a boost in their overall usefulness, but those seemed to have lost a lot of the flavor and character of the Classic version of the model.

The greater importance of the Schemes was able to maintain the asymetrical feel of Malifaux while providing a consideration for not announcing the schemes. The scheme pool really took away from this for me, creating an artificial limitation on my game. I am told this is something others have grown to like, but at this point I am not a fan. The strategies are a great idea implemented badly. The designers took the well designed strategies in gaining grounds and found ways to make them worse by not understanding the portions of the design that made the strategy both enjoyable and balanced.

Soulstones are now a more limited resource and less powerful overall. I like the versatility that was added, but really felt the loss of power. It's truly a shame that the designers are all but married to this design (as understood from their podcast interviews) as with a few small changes soulstones could be easily improved.

 So, at the end of the game, I was not convinced. I played my first game of Malifaux Classic after being convinced to sit down for a demo by a friend. I was not looking for a new game and sat down expecting to just play a quick demo then get on to the games I actually wanted to play. Malifaux Classic was such an amazing game that from the first demo I was hooked and it became essentially my only game. Malifaux V2 was not able to replicate that. It feels like much less.

I plan to keep writing about my experience as I play a few more games. I am still hoping for that Magical Grabbing moment that Classic inspired. I am expecting it less and less the more I look at the new game.


  1. I found that a very interesting read Bill, thanks for sharing. I haven't played the new game but simply looking at the stat cards and flicking through the rules things appeared watered down. I look forward to reading more of your exploits with v2 beta and see if your opinion changes.

    1. I plan to keep it up and will be doing a podcast review to release over the next couple weeks as well. I held off recording this weekend as I wanted a chance to really dig into the rules and to get some games on the table.

  2. Bill, thanks for sharing. I am in the same boat as you, loving Classic and just hoping M2E is good enough to still be enjoyable. The main problem in my opinion is that the target audience for M2E is not the same as it was in Classic, and we are no longer part of it. The same as you, I enjoyed how characterful each model was and the complexity of the interactions that resulted from that. It seems, though, that the driver now is to reduce complexity and that requires them to simplify models all over the board. That translates to me into the "washed" feeling you mentioned. Anyway, I will continue trying the game during beta and hoping that the final product, although not as good as Classic, will still be "good enough".
    BTW, I think the pool of schemes can be a good thing, forcing people to vary schemes from game to game. OTOH, I really disliked what they did for soulstones... :(

    1. On the Scheme Pool, I always found the idea that people did not vary thier schemes interesting. I did not really run into that problem. Even my new love of taking Bodyguard with Yan Lo is really more of a training tool for me than anything else. In all the travelling I have done and in my local group people regularly varied thier schemes.

      One of my concerns is that I have the hint in my first game that the new set-up ends up feeling more like having 3 strategies than a strategy and two schemes. I need to get another game or two in on that before I will really have a handle on what I mean by that though.